Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Showing steady economic growth, Israel receives high overall rankings (rank 10) in the area of economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Healthy post-crisis growth rates have declined somewhat, and deficits have been moderate but persistent. Employment rates have risen and unemployment rates have declined in the last half-decade, but large demographic groups opt out of traditional work. Policies aimed at encouraging ultra-orthodox men to join the labor force have been rolled back.

Labor-market regulation is based on a flexicurity model, providing both labor-market flexibility and benefits in case of layoffs. Minimum wages have been increased. The R&D sector is strong, but driven by the private sector.

Individual and corporate tax rates are low. The government has preferred to cut spending rather than raise taxes, even when faced with high levels of security spending.

Social Policies

With significant concerns over equity and polarization, Israel falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 27) with respect to social policies. Its score in this area has fallen by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

The education system is split, with achievement lower among orthodox-school and Arab-Israeli pupils. Income inequality is significant, and the poverty rate quite high despite slight improvements. Gender-based and Arab-Jewish pay gaps remain substantial. Social spending is low by international standards.

Health care provision is universal and of generally high quality. Child allowances, child-care provision and maternal-leave policies support families as well as work-parenting balance. The share of women in the workforce is nearing that of men.

With largely privatized pensions, the risk of old-age poverty exceeds the OECD average. Integration efforts are directed toward ethnic-Jewish immigrants, with others suffering from ad-hoc policy failures. Internal security is tightly bound up with national defense.

Environmental Policies

With security concerns overshadowing environmental issues, Israel falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 37) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Climate policy is a key challenge. Israel’s already modest emissions-reduction goals have been reduced further, and policies directed toward these objectives have been underfunded, hampering progress. Price mechanisms encouraging energy-use reductions have not been accompanied by sufficient alternatives.

With insufficient water reserves, the country is a leader in desalination and related innovations. Regulation and prevention of water pollution remains problematic. International coordination efforts have largely been focused on water and desertification issues.



Quality of Democracy

With ongoing tension over its treatment of Palestinians, Israel receives low rankings (rank 30) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Despite generally open and free elections, candidates can be banned for rejecting Israel’s Jewish identity, among other issues. The vote threshold to enter parliament has been raised. Parties receive private and public funding, with effective spending oversight. A recently passed law allows referenda only in the event of withdrawal from certain geographic areas.

Political pressure on private media has increased. Media outlets face military censorship related to conflicts with Palestinian groups and neighboring countries. Arabs experience systematic discrimination and infringements of civil rights, and are politically marginalized. The frequency of human-rights violations in Gaza has increased.

The judiciary is independent and regularly rules against the government. A number of prominent politicians have been involved in corruption scandals.



Executive Capacity

With an activist PMO, Israel falls into the middle of the pack (rank 23) with respect to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.2 points since 2014.

The government lacks concrete plans to address a number of major societal challenges. Strategic-planning bodies’ influence is limited in scope. In recent years, the PMO has become more deeply involved in policy proposal and development, and has been accused of making decisions without sufficient ministerial involvement.

An RIA program is in the early stages of implementation. Protests have pushed the government to consider more substantive consultation mechanisms. Inconsistent ministry policy statements are not uncommon. In part because budgeting is highly centralized, ministries act territorially.

A significant share of government decisions goes unimplemented. The PMO has rejected calls for stricter monitoring. Some policy goals have been achieved by using emergency procedures rather than regular legislation.

Executive Accountability

With some legislative weaknesses, Israel falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 18) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has increased by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources, but executive practices undermine formal oversight powers. The State Comptroller serves as an independent auditor and ombudsman, but holds no power to issue sanctions.

Citizens are highly interested in politics, through this does not automatically translate into policy knowledge. The media does produce substantial reporting on policy and long-term strategies, with independent websites providing solid investigatory work.

The large number of political parties vary strongly in their internal decision-making processes. Business organizations are sophisticated and work closely with the government. Noneconomic associations and NGOs are becoming increasingly influential.
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